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Towards Ecotourism Promotion through a Destination Management System in Benin. : 

Towards Ecotourism Promotion through a Destination Management System in Benin. Abomey-Calavi, Bénin, Tel. +229 95 28 52 20, Gautier K. AMOUSSOU National Coordinator

General description: 

General description Benin is a laic, peaceful, and democratic country contrary to most of its surrounding countries. Benin is a developing country located in West Africa, 114,763 sq. km. It shares borders with Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline is 124 km long across the south, with the land stretching from north to south for 672 km from the Niger River to the Bight of Benin. With a population of around 7 million, Benin has an average population density of 55 people per square km, one of the lowest in West Africa. The pillars of Benin’s economy are agriculture, tourism, cotton, and palm products. The largest provider of employment is agriculture. The country's per capita income is approximately US$370 per annum.

Ecotourism potential in Benin: 

Ecotourism potential in Benin Protected areas in the North: 1,250,000 ha, 20,000 species Forest reserves & sacred forests: 18,159 ha, 2,940 forests

Ecotourism potential in Benin: 

Ecotourism potential in Benin Wetlands areas: Ramsar sites (1017 & 1018) There are shores of lakes, lagoon, beaches, and many fishing villages, thermal springs, and lively markets. Bird watching:

Ecotourism potential in Benin: 

Ecotourism potential in Benin Mountains and hills There are complex mountainous and hills with up to 650 m height Royal and Ethnographic Museums Village areas game viewing: hippos, manatees, primates, pythons, etc The Slave Route: This pathway is the original route the slaves walked from the centre of town to the coast to board the ships Feasts and events: At national level la Gani in the North, Fête du Vodoun, le Festival du Danxomê, Festival Racines at Porto-Novo, Caletas At international level FITHEB, BOULEVART, Gospel et Racines, Quintessence

Tourism trends in Benin: 

Tourism trends in Benin

Global arrival situation in Benin: 

Global arrival situation in Benin

Tourist arrivals from Europe : 

Tourist arrivals from Europe

Tourist arrival from America: 

Tourist arrival from America

Major Tourism/Ecotourism constraints: 

Major Tourism/Ecotourism constraints low level of marketing and ICT using for tourism promotion, limited access to Internet and online registration systems, the elevated cost of the VAT, the elevated cost of the energy, the elevated tax on accommodations high costs of tourism investment, the lack of training and courses for hotel workers and guides, the absence of visibility of promotion actions at promoters and government levels, the absence of incitement to investment, the lack of tourism facilities, difficulties due to the internal transport, Expensiveness of the aerial transport with the monopoly of Air France, irregular distribution and the valorization of tourist attractions, absence of funding for private and NGOs initiatives,

Setting up a Destination Management System : ECO-BENIN case study: 

Setting up a Destination Management System : ECO-BENIN case study General mandate Ensuring better living standards of communities at local and national level through ecotourism and eco-development promotion as a sustainable management of natural resources. Objectives Provide technical assistance to communities to enable eco-development initiatives; Carry out market studies and marketing programme elaboration with reference to ecotourism-related objectives; Build capacity of and empower local communities to promote their natural potentialities through ecotourism; Improve the education and training of relevant personnel (nature guides, tour operators, conservationists, etc); Promote best practices of Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM); Mainstream issues of poverty eradication and gender into natural resources management programmes and projects.

Setting up a Destination Management System : ECO-BENIN case study: 

Setting up a Destination Management System : ECO-BENIN case study Historical background The Benin Ecotourism Concern was created in 1999 as a working group for nature promotion through ecotourism to establish and maintain good working relationship between local and international non governmental organizations, regional and international wildlife societies, travel industries, and other relevant bodies. ECO-BENIN funding partners local communities and voluntarism Confhôtel auberge (local private lodge in Benin) ECO-BENIN weaknesses No efficient marketing initiatives for ecotourism promotion Low capacity in self-funding Narrow partnership and networking group Lack of professionalism regarding communications

ECO-BENIN team, working for Nature and Communities Welfare: 

ECO-BENIN team, working for Nature and Communities Welfare ECO-BENIN strengths Young, small, dynamic, and multidisciplinary team Voluntary work of most of the members

Major on-going activities: 

Major on-going activities Creation and regular updates of a portal web on the ecotourism in Benin: ECO-BENIN being composed of young voluntary graduates, the group functions until now with its own resources. The collection of data, the conception, and the realization of ECO-BENIN web site comes from self-funding resources. Regarding the progress done with the website, the group is now thinking about how to move by passing from the present static fashion of the web site to a dynamic web site so long as a system of management of the content as the SPIP (System of Publication by the Internet Shared). This will permit us to decrease our present difficulties of management and updating of information on the web site. Development of ecotourism circuits ECO-BENIN has just signed a partnership with “Planète Urgence”, a French NGO making the Interdependent Holiday promotion. This Association organizes the departure of volunteers wishing to participate directly in field activities. This will help us to train local guides mainly in Southern Benin so that they can: 1) Conduct hikes while interpreting nature to eco-travellers, 2) Set up community-based ecotourism circuits Development and organizational management of ecotourism activities It is also a small project to be developed in partnership with “Planète Urgence”. It is to train local guides in ecotourism activities management at village level such as: 1) Development of the local handicraft and activities bound to ecotourism 2) Accounting, management of the descended profits related to ecotourism activities and the local production merchandising, 3) Creation and management of camping

Short-term challenges at ECO-BENIN: 

Short-term challenges at ECO-BENIN ECO-BENIN has just prepared a project that aims to develop a competitive electronic marketing system at regional and international levels. The main activities of the project result in: the creation of a communication mechanism with site-based stakeholders the definition of different stakeholders roles for ecotourism promotion; the production and vulgarization of brochure, posters, CD-ROM, and electronic advertising supports; the cooperation improvement with tourism agencies, local embassies and other stakeholders involved in ecotourism; the improvement of the Internet advertising and vulgarization, the promotion of ecotourism products through the Web pages of international organisms of tourism/ecotourism. The project will also permit to reinforce the partnership between ECO-BENIN and similar organisms of which notably The International Ecotourism Society, World Tourism Organisation, the UNCTAD, Eco-club international, Ecotourism Society of Kenya, and Ecotourism Society of Nigeria. We are searching funds for this project so that it will start in 2006.

Global strategies & solutions: 

Global strategies & solutions A targeted marketing. It will be about orienting promotion actions towards targeted markets, that concerns countries with important flux towards Benin. Some specific promotion actions will address themselves to the local, under-regional, regional, international clientele and particularly to the African-American Diaspora. Efforts will be made to encourage the practice for multiple destination tourists. Facilitation measures improvement. These measures must facilitate the entrance and the exit of tourists in Benin. Effort have to be done to stop harassments at borders. Also, the “Visa Entente” must be reactivated and the project of African visa must be perfected. The widening of the air-traffic. The present monopoly of Air France cannot permit an efficient promotion of the Benin destination. The diversification of the aerial servicing is important in order to reduce the transport plane cost and increase tourist flux. It must be achieved by the concession of the approval to companies of aerial transports of world renown.

Global strategies & solutions: 

Global strategies & solutions Training and empowerment of tourism stakeholders It is imperious to elaborate and execute a program for training and perfection of tourism stakeholders. Aforesaid program will include the specific technical training and the general foreign language formation, the English, notions on management, marketing, data processing, tax, etc. Creation of the tourism sector Create the tourism sector will allow benefiting and encouraging measures to raise tourism services levels; some of these measures are: - The ordering of the tourism sector as the Government's priority This measure allows the tourism sector to benefit the first attention on behalf of the Government. - The specific investment code to the Tourism sector A specific investment code of the tourism sector has been elaborated and has been under finalisation. It offers important fiscal measures and other incitements in favour of the tourism sector.

Global strategies & solutions: 

Global strategies & solutions - A special credit affectation A special credit affection in favour of the sector will encourage the realization of tourist infrastructures of good quality and in sufficient quantity and will permit to intensify the promotion. Besides all above, the following solutions are recommended: Characterization of the Benin destination; Review of the VAT rate for hotels, establishments, restaurants and all sectors related to tourism; Application of the industrial energy tariff; Setting up of tourism/ecotourism promotion lobbies and monitoring Groups; Giving great attention to the application of norms in restoration as well as to questions of the investment Code.

Solutions at local level: 

Solutions at local level To represent poor communities and establish network with national and foreign tourism organisms To give means to the poor communities to take decisions in the tourism domain To bring a support to Private Enterprises, Community-based tourism enterprises and the casual sector, To identify the social projects susceptible to get the support from tourism enterprises and visitors To count and encourage the best practices in ecotourism establishment To adopt practices that offer employment possibilities to poor people. To work with several stakeholders to develop the local chain of provision

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